New dressmaking project: pleated tartan skater dress!

It’s been a very hectic time at work for the past month or so. Unfortunately this eats into my spare time which I would normally spend sewing, especially with the looming wedding date coming up in 4 months time. Eek! I’ll post an update soon on progress with the white wedding dress. All that’s left is to sew the finished lining to the inside of the outer dress and that’s another one finished 🙂 3 to go!

Browsing on the World Wide Web, I came across blog Merrick’s Art and her lovely outfit (loving the gladiator sandals!). Most importantly, the beautiful dress Merrick was wearing for her tutorial blog post!

Merrick’s Art fit and flare dress tutorial

I had previously posted about the idea of making my own sunburst pleated skirt, but I wasn’t sure 1) whether or not such small pleats would suit my body shape, and 2) how much material I would need to make the pleats. After much research into similar styles, I’ve now got my mind set on another exciting dressmaking project: a skater dress with a pleated skirt.

Petite pleat bonded scuba skater dress, £55 from ASOS

Jersey pleated skater dress, £34 from Warehouse

Love textured midi pleated dress, £36 from ASOS

Merrick has posted a tutorial for the dress itself, there’s also another one on making a box pleated skirt, but I find it difficult to work with instructions that tell you to go by eye. I’m very detail oriented and I need specifics on how to do things properly.

I’ve managed to work out exactly how much material I need for the skirt and with it all worked out in my head, I’m excited to get started soon! I’ve got quite a few sewing projects on the go at the moment in addition to the wedding party wardrobe, but it’ll be good to get some sewing variety in there. No need to stress and focus all my anxieties on completing the last 3 (and finishing one), better to keep your mind stress-free!

I’ve made a lot of dresses so far with cap sleeves, so with this dress I’ve decided to make a half sleeve using my trusty ol’ New Look pattern.

New Look #6723

I’ll post a tutorial of my own once I get started, but the main thing you’ll need to work out your waist measurement plus seam allowance, and how long you want it to be. I’m planning to measure the length of the skirt pattern and to use that measurement as the skirt length tends to work well for me (the hem falls just below my knee). Technically, I’m still making the same dress, except it’ll have pleats along the waistline.

So how much fabric will you need exactly for the skirt? This was the part that I found hardest when I previously spoke to a fabric shop owner and a company that offered fabric pleating services. It wasn’t quite clear how much fabric I needed, which ranged from 1.5 times to 3 times the amount. To work this out, you’ll need to decide how big you want your pleats to be and what kind of pleats. Going by the style of the dress, I’m going to stick with the box pleats at the waist and leave this unpleated at the bottom. For the fit and flare pleated dress on Merrick’s Art blog, 3 inch pleats were used, but I’d prefer to use slightly smaller pleats of 2 inches. You’ll need to also work out whether or not the pleats will work into your waist measurement as well. For example, if your waist size is an even number, you might end up with uneven edges if your pleat sizes were of an odd number.

I did some more research and figured that you’ll need 3 times your waist measurement. It might seem like a lot, but the diagram below might help explain things a bit better.

Close up of a box pleat. Source: The Cutting Class

The reason for deciding on the type of pleats you want helps you see what you need to do to get your desired pleated design. With box pleats, as you can see in the diagram above, the visible front panel hides 2 folds in a Z shape. The fold itself should be half the width of your pleat (ie with 2 inch pleats, your fold will be 1 inch). To make up the Z, you’ll need 2 folds so you’ll find the ‘V’ on each side of the front panel will end up being the same width (2 inches) as the front panel, so the folded edge under the panel meets in the middle.

So for my dress, I’d need a long rectangular piece of fabric with the desired width (which will form the waist to the hem of the skirt) with the length of my waist measurement x 3. The amount of fabric I’ll need should allow for the width (desired length of skirt from waist to hem) and length (waist measurement x 3).

So using the measurements that the drop of my skirt will be 26.8 inches and my waist measures 26.5 inches.

Length of fabric needed for skirt = 26.8 inches (width) by 79.5 inches (length, 26.5 x 3).

Does this make sense?

I’ve got the perfect tartan fabric for this project with the fabric I previously bought from

Light grey Checks Sherlock cotton fabric from

It’s a beautiful checked fabric which also has big floral motif on one side. When I bought the fabric, the intention has always been to use the plain tartan side for the top and the floral motif to be the detail for the full skirt.

The tartan pattern of the Light grey Checks Sherlock fabric

The floral motif that will be used for the skirt

Looking at the tartan pattern of the fabric gets me excited. I’m a big fan of tartan and because it’s cotton, I can make myself a modern dress with the beautiful pattern without feeling the weight of the wool of traditional tartan used for kilts. The pleats with the tartan pattern will also give it a slightly similar design of a kilt although the kilt has a front flat panel and sharp knife pleats in the back. Imagine wearing 3 yards of woolen fabric for a kilt!

I’m looking forward to getting started and promise to post a tutorial to explain exactly how to make your own pleated skater dress! Comment below if you’ve got any projects you’re currently working on or are planning to start soon!

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